We’ve been watching this season of The Bachelorette unable to concentrate on whether or not Ashley Hebert will find love. Instead of analyzing which guy she could end up with in the end, we have been too distracted by one potential suitor in particular— and not because we’re smitten by his good looks or cheesy tactics for winning her heart (though there is plenty of both on the show from other men).
We speak, of course, of Bentley.
In all of the years we've watched this show, we have not yet seen a contestant as conniving, two-faced and just plain terrible. For those of you not familiar with what’s going on this season, here’s a quick recap: Before even going on the show, Ashley was warned that this guy, Bentley, was coming onto The Bachelorette simply to promote his business, and that he planned to use the show more for a vacation opportunity, hoping not to stick around very long. When she first spoke to the show’s host, Chris Harrison, Ashley seems determined to confront Bentley. Then, she met the guy and was taken by his douche-baggy, frat-boy “charm” (okay, okay, so he is tall and has nice hair but he’s not that cute), and, suddenly, that instinct to confront him flited away.
Ashley then proceeded to fall for him. Hard. All the while, he’s telling the camera that he couldn’t “give a s**t about her.” (Yes, that’s a real quote, folks.)
As we’ve been watching this play out, all we can think is this: Why did Ashley ignore that Big Red Flag?
The situation got much worse than we could have expected on the show's third episode: Bentley informed Ashley that he had to leave the show to get back to his daughter, whom he claimed to miss. At the same time, he was telling us viewers at home how he really just didn’t see a future with her and wasn’t attracted to her in any way (while he was continuing to kiss her and stroke her hair). Instead of being a man about it, he continued to lead her on, going so far as to tell her that their relationship didn’t have to end with a period, but more a “dot dot dot.” He seemed to just enjoy messing with her head and mess with it he did. She barely made it to the rose ceremony at the end of the episode.
Watching this all unfold wasn’t even enjoyable. The situation just became uncomfortable and sad as we saw this supposed “man” (and father!) tell Ashley what he thought she wanted to hear, all of which he didn’t really feel, then inform us that he knew exactly what he was doing: lying to her straight-faced, while she cried, to evoke Wilson Phillips. While The Bachelorette always comes with a certain level of drama, seeing a hopeful woman get brutally toyed with is not our kind of entertainment.
Part of the discomfort was knowing that, like many women, we’ve been there. We’ve blatantly ignored red flags, hoping that the story we’ve created in our heads about a man is more real than the reality we’ve been told (or at least know deep down). Bentley’s stone-hearted demeanor, which confirmed our worst fears that men like him do actually exist, only compounded how deflated we felt watching Ashley’s interactions with him.